I was out for a walk the other day. I try to walk every day. Lately it has been difficult. Not because I'm too busy. When I'm feeling down I tend to goof around on the web or work with Photoshop. I’d rather be working but that option has not been available to me in abundance recently. I did get to work the other day and in part due to that I went for a walk.
I was thinking about my cousin Peter. We spoke a few days ago. He’s having a difficult time. He has the family genes and has a number of medical problems. He needs surgery. Probably several surgeries. But he doesn’t want to do it. He’s been mostly out of work for some time. He worked in the construction industry. Technically he still works there. The construction industry was probably the first and worst to suffer the effects of the downturn. He told me that he’s depressed. He’s taking meds for it. It was hard for him to admit. I've dealt with depression off and on. To him it’s all fresh.
I've never understood why some are just rude when they talk about those who suffer depression. Due to people such as this, admitting depression is hard. Dealing with depression is not like winning a new car where you want to say: “Look at me! I'm a winner!” Instead you’re sad. You wonder if tomorrow will be any different. Many don’t like to let others know they are sad.
In addition to my cousin Peter’s medical problems, he’s lost two of his immediate family members recently. One of them was his brother, hardly over a year ago. Peter had to make a long journey to come to his brother’s funeral. It was hard for him to do. After the funeral he ended up staying a lot longer than planned so he could help clean his departed brothers home. And then he stayed an extra week after that so he could attend my mom’s funeral. Cleaning his departed brother’s home was a challenge due to his medical problems. And this says nothing of the emotional impact. He and his brother were very close. They talked every day. Peter is very generous and he stayed to help. That's the kind of person he is.
The brother that passed on was named Keith. He was artist and a collector. Keith made artist’s paint brushes and his house was used in part for brush manufacturing. He did very well on the art fair circuit and would frequently buy other artist’s works. Mostly just to help other artists. He said he’d walk around the shows and look at who wasn’t busy and buy something from them. That’s the kind of person Keith was. His house was a combination of a modern art museum, an artist’s workshop, and a home. It took a lot of work to clean the house. My cousin Peter had the help of a good friend, who made the long journey with him. They spent a lot of time at my departed cousin’s house. It’s tough to spend time in the home of someone who has just passed on. You feel a little edgy but comforted in a way. Everything is in its place except the one thing that really matters.
Peter had not begin to get past the loss of Keith when, a few months ago, their mom passed on.
She was my favourite auntie. She was a little spitfire and lived to be 92. She smoked Camel filters until about a week before she passed on. She gave me my first taste of scotch when I was young. She was about of 5 feet tall, had short red hair, a voice deeper than Bing Crosby’s, and a razor sharp sense of wit combined with an excellent memory. I miss her a lot. I know he does too. It was only a few years ago he lost his dad. I've lost both my parents and a sister so I understand some of his feelings.
The other day when I talked with Peter he said his best friend was recently tested for cancer. His friend has no health insurance. These all add up to why he’s depressed. I did some research on California’s high risk insurance pool and sent the information to my cousin the next day. I asked that he foreword it to the friend and said to let me know if I can help further.
Another relative, one of my sisters, just finished a course of radiation therapy. She told me a few months back that she had a bad feeling. Then the doctor found a cancerous growth on her cheek. My sister has had a terrible time recently. She lost her husband due to cancer just a few years ago. Then, about a year ago she broke an ankle, then at little while after that she found out she had cancer. She met each problem head on and did what was needed to get through. She had radiation therapy and right after that she needed dental work, which was probably related to the radiation treatment. She’s very brave and few have a kinder or more generous heart.
So anyway I’m thinking about all this and my mom’s recent passing while on my walk and I see a crow on the ground. I know a little about crows. They are intelligent and wary. Similar to ravens. They can also be deceptive. This one was having problems. His beak was slightly open and his head was down. Not down as in looking for food but down as in having problems. The crow was moving mostly sideways and was lethargic. I watched him for a moment. He didn’t like my intrusion and was moving slowly away from me, toward the roadway. I didn’t want him to wander further onto the road, so I let him be and continued my walk.
During the walk I tried to think about other things. It was a beautiful day but sometimes no matter what the sights, your thoughts are elsewhere.
Hours later I got to go out and do an errand for a client. I asked my partner if she would like to come with and she said yes. While driving home I told her about the crow. My partner is an animal lover and has been known to pull off the road to remove a dead animal from the roadway. I told her it looked as if the crow had maybe had a stroke. She wanted go the area to see if it was still there. I said: “To what end?” And she said: “Just to bury it.” I really didn’t want to go and churn up the thoughts I’d had earlier, but she persisted. We had a little spat, which was mostly silence, and in the end I agreed. We detoured to go to where I saw the crow earlier in the day. There was no crow to be found. She said “It’s probably in the bushes.” But she was content look no further, and so we drove home.
As I reflect on these events I realize that we need to make an effort to help. I guess to degrees even when it may be futile. What else is there?
Postscript: It’s been about a week since I wrote the article above. I learned that my cousin Peter passed away yesterday morning at his home.